North Dakota State wins four of five at Gopher Indoor Classic 

Herd has won seven of their last 10 

The Bison softball team recently won three of four games last weekend and looked to carry that momentum a week later into the Gopher Indoor Classic. The Herd had trouble during their first game inside US Bank Stadium but battled back with an 8-run 6th inning to take the victory and push their record over .500. 

In the top of the first inning, the Bengals put a run on the board before their defense took the field. After a single, double, then a walk, 2nd baseman Kate Hogan reached on an infield single off NDSU pitcher Lainey Lyle to plate the game’s first run. 

After another threat to start the second inning, Lyle got out of the jam by forcing a trio of groundballs. Lyle would then settle in as she sent down 9 of the next 10 batters to get through the fourth inning. The offense, however, was not able to put a rally together managing just three hits across four innings. 

North Dakota State’s deficit would swell in the top of the fifth inning. After an error to start the inning, the opportunistic Bengal offense would add to their lead. Following a single by Angelica Cano, catcher Oliva Robison drove in both runners with a double to left center. Lyle would get out of the inning two batters later, but the damage was done, and the Bengals led 3-0. 

The Bison would respond in the bottom half of the inning as Bella Dean struck her first career home run to left field. The solo blast trimmed the deficit to 3-1 but that was all as Idaho State pitcher Jordan Schuring quickly got out of the inning in just three pitches following the homerun. 

The bottom of the sixth saw an abundance of Bison runners score. The tinderbox of the entire inning was Emilee Buringa being hit by a pitch on a 0-2 count to lead off the inning. Two batters after a pitching change, 1st baseman Reanna Rudd evened the contest at 3 apiece with a two-run double to left field. One batter later, catcher Kaylee Moore gave her team their first lead of the day with an RBI single to center field. 

A few batters later, the Bengals’ pitching staff gave the Bison another gift. With the bases loaded and two down, pinch hitter Zoe King was hit by a pitch to bring across the fourth run of the frame. As the lineup turned over, Buringa emptied the bases with a triple to right field which gave the Bison the lead 8-3. Carley Goetschius added to that with an RBI extra-base hit of her own with a double to left field. Just like that, the Bison led 9-3 and had all the momentum with just three outs to record. 

Lyle put the finishing touches on her complete game performance with a pair of groundouts and a strikeout to end the game. Lyle improves to 5-4 on the season as she threw 7 innings allowing just two earned runs on eight hits and striking out two. Over her last four outings, Lyle has an earned run average of just 1.97 in over 21 innings pitched dating back to February 26. 

The win puts the Bison over .500 for the first time since winning their season-opener against California-Baptist back on February 10, improving to 10-9. 

Bison shut out by Minnesota 2-0 in second game of Friday doubleheader 

Following the 9-3 come-from-being victory over Idaho State earlier in the afternoon, the Bison returned to the diamond inside US Bank Stadium to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Despite 9 runs and 9 hits in their first game, the Herd collected just three hits and were shut out by Gophers’ pitcher Autumn Pease. 

The offense looked to get something started with hits in the first and second innings by Carley Goetschius and Kaylee Moore respectively, but each inning ended in zeros. Reanna Rudd would record a one-out single in the top of the fourth inning and would be the last Bison to reach base on Friday evening. 

Luckily for North Dakota State, pitcher Paige Vargas kept her team in the game with a dazzling performance in the circle. Vargas retired 11 of the first 12 batters she faced despite striking out just one hitter. 

The Gophers would get to Vargas in the bottom of the fourth, however, as they finally scored the game’s first run. After a two-out walk by Jess Oakland, Maddy Ehlke drove in Oakland with an RBI double on the 13th pitch of the at-bat. Despite just one strike away from keeping the game scoreless, the Bison suddenly trailed 1-0. 

North Dakota State’s bats could not get anything going on Pease as she faced the minimum in the final three innings forcing five pop-outs during that stretch. Pease threw a complete game on just 92 pitches and allowed only three hits and no walks while striking out nine Bison batters. 

In the bottom of the sixth, the Gophers would plate another run with a pair of doubles by Minnesota’s top two hitters in the order Natalie DenHartog and Kayla Chavez to bring the score to 2-0. 

On the day, Vargas limited Minnesota to just four hits but all of which went for extra bases. Despite receiving the loss and falling to 5-5 on the year, Vargas pitched a solid game going five innings and giving up two runs despite only one strikeout. 

A 1-2-3 top of the seventh inning culminating in a strikeout of Bella Dean clinched the 2-0 win for Minnesota. The Bison looked to bounce back the next day against Drake. 

North Dakota State bounces back with 7-2 victory over Drake 

The Bison softball team took the field once again in Minneapolis, Minn. to take on the Drake Bulldogs for the 3rd of the five-game Gopher Indoor Classic. 

The Bison sticks got back to business right out of the gates, giving themselves an early lead. With the bases loaded and two outs, Zoe King worked the count full before smacking a 2-RBI double to center field. The Herd would load the bases again, but a groundout would end the frame. 

In the circle, Savy Williams made her first start of the season. The Bulldogs got to Williams early by taking advantage of an error and a walk. With the bases juiced, 2nd baseman Aubree Beitzinger knocked in two runners with a single to left to tie the game. Williams induced a pair of groundouts to retire the Bulldogs, but the game was tied at 2 after the first inning. 

That score did not last as North Dakota State responded in the top half of the 2nd inning with a blast. First, Emilee Buringa was hit by a pitch for the second time in as many days. Two batters later, Anjolee Aguilar-Beaucage stepped up to the plate. The NDSU shortstop smoked a two-run home run that gave the lead back to the Herd once again at 4-2. 

While the offense was unproductive over the next three innings, producing just one baserunner, Williams made up for it in the circle. Through the sixth inning, Williams was excellent as she fought through two errors behind her by only allowing one hit and two walks during that stretch despite not striking anyone out for the whole game. 

North Dakota State provided some insurance for Williams in the final two innings. In the sixth inning, Zoe King singled and moved all the way to third base on a sac bunt and steal, Skylar Padgett hit her home with an RBI single to extend the lead to 5-2. 

The top of the 7th inning was then a rollercoaster of events for the Bison offense. North Dakota State got their first two batters aboard with a walk and single but after a fielder’s choice and a runner thrown out trying to steal second, things looked bleak for the Herd offensively. However, after Reanna Rudd drew a walk, Kaylee Moore drove her in with a two-run double to deep left field. As both runners crossed the plate, the Bison’s advantage had soared to 7-2 in the waning stages of the contest. 

Despite a couple of two-out singles, Williams forced her 14th and final groundout of the game. Williams’ first start was excellent as she picked up her first win (and decision) of the season. Through a complete seven innings, Williams allowed just five hits and three walks while allowing just two runs, one of which was earned. 

The Bison would be back on the field for a back-to-back doubleheader. First, the Herd would take on Idaho State again followed by another matchup with Drake right afterward to close out the Gopher Indoor Classic. 

Bison defeat Idaho State once again 4-1 behind Vargas’ complete game 

Although they started off the season slow with just a 1-5 record, the Bison softball team has since caught fire. With just four non-conference games remaining, now is the time to get rolling before Summit League play begins on March 25 against Kansas City. Finishing the Gopher Indoor Classic with a Sunday doubleheader, the Bison first took down Idaho State for the second time in three days behind a complete game performance from pitcher Paige Vargas. 

Despite their limited offensive success, the Bengals struck first in the top of the second inning. Leading off the inning, right fielder Ava Brown smacked a solo home run to give Idaho State a 1-0 lead. However, the Bengals would record just one hit for the remainder of the contest. The Herd threatened in the bottom of the inning after a leadoff double and a pair of walks, but the threat ceased with a pop-out to end the frame. 

The bottom of the third inning would, however, produce a different result. As the lineup flipped back over, Emilee Buringa drew a leadoff walk to get on base for those behind her. Two pitches later, Carley Goetschius tied the game with a double to left field that brought Buringa around from first to score and tied the game at one. After a couple of outs through the air and a walk, Zoe King had the big blow of the inning with a two-run double to center field. As Goetschius and Kaylee Moore crossed the plate, the Bison claimed their first lead of the day at 3-1. 

Skylar Padgett helped start another productive inning in the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff double. Just like they drew it up, Chloe Woldruff sacrificed her over to third with a bunt and Emilee Buringa hit her home with a sac fly to left to extend the lead to 4-1. 

Idaho State would put up their only true offensive threat of the game in the top of the fifth. A leadoff single and two-out walk were put to rest once Vargas forced a lineout to end the inning. Including the second-inning home run, those would be the only two base runners Vargas would surrender for the game. 

Vargas brought her A-game to the circle. The win was the fourth time she has allowed one run or less over the course of seven innings. For the full seven frames, Vargas allowed just two hits, one run, and one walk while striking out six on 101 pitches to improve to 6-5 on the season. Through 70.2 innings this season, Vargas has posted an ERA of just 2.08 which would be a career-best for the fifth-year senior. She is also one strikeout away from 450 in her career. 

The Bengals were sent down once again with ease in the seventh with a groundout and a pair of pop-outs to clinch the Bison victory. Despite just five hits for the game, the pitching staff did the heavy lifting this time despite the offense scoring 7 or more runs in five of the six prior games. 

The Bison had just one more game to go in the Gopher Indoor Classic where they would play the Drake Bulldogs once again. 

Late-game magic propels Bison to 4-2 victory over Drake 

Over the past week or so, the Bison softball team has been rolling. Prior to their finale in the Gopher Indoor Classic, the Herd had won six of their last seven games, scoring 51 runs over that stretch. Before returning home from their trip to Minneapolis, the Bison would have one more game to play. Taking on the Drake Bulldogs for the second time in as many days, the Herd survived a scare with some late-game heroics. 

Through the initial three innings, both North Dakota State’s Piper Reed and Drake’s Mackenzie Hupke gave hitters trouble allowing just one hit each with the Bulldogs’ lone hit coming on a bunt. 

The first run would come across in the top of the fourth off the bat of Bella Dean. With two down and Reanna Rudd on first after drawing a walk, Dean lifted a double to left centerfield that Rudd all the way around to score. The first big swing of the day from Dean gave the Herd a 1-0 lead. 

Hupke sent down Bison hitters with ease for the next two innings, but NDSU’s hurlers did just the same. Reed allowed a hit in each of the next two innings but got out of trouble in each with the help of Lainey Lyle’s relief in the fifth. 

The sixth inning was where things got dicey for Lyle and the Herd. After starting the rally with a bunt single, left fielder Emma Dighton tied the game with an RBI double to center field. A sac bunt then sent her to third which brought Aubree Beitzinger to the dish. The second baseman gave her team a 2-1 lead with a sac fly to centerfield with just three outs for her pitching staff to record. 

Dean and the Bison answered the call immediately. To lead off the inning, Dean took Hupke yard, and the game was immediately tied at two. For her efforts in the tournament, Dean was named Summit League Peak Player of the Week. Dean recorded a .375 batting average, a .444 on-base percentage, and slugged 1.250 thanks to two home runs. She becomes the third Bison player this season along with Paige Vargas and Anjolee Aguilar-Beaucage to receive the honor. 

 A pair of singles and a walk to Skylar Padgett, Zoe King, and Emilee Buringa sent Aguilar-Beaucage to the plate. The junior shortstop drove in two runs with a single and, despite having their backs against the wall, the Bison took a 4-2 lead. The Herd finished the game with six hits, four of which came in the final inning. 

Lyle then sent down the Bulldogs in an orderly fashion to finish the game and clinch the 4-2 win. North Dakota State finished the Gopher Indoor Classic 4-1 and has now won seven of their last eight games as they move to 13-10 on the season. 

The Herd will play Tuesday in Starkville, Miss. against Mississippi State. They will then take on Purdue in Starkville the next day to close out the non-conference schedule. 

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